Posts Tagged ‘fires’

Heart attacks, vehicle accidents leading cause of firefighter deaths in 2007

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

In a recently issued study entitled On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2007 (3.0 mb PDF), the United States Fire Administration (USFA) reported that there were 115 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2007. This was an 11% increase from the 106 fatalities in 2006. As in prior years, heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death, accounting for about 45% of the fatalities. Vehicle-related incidents were the second highest cause of death, accounting for 27 fatalities. Firefighters lives were lost in 33 states and Washington, DC. South Carolina experienced the highest number of fatalities (11) while Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and California each suffered more than 5 on-duty losses. Some other key statistics in the report include:

  • 68 volunteer firefighters and 50 career firefighters died while on duty
  • There were 7 firefighter fatality incidents where 2 or more firefighters were killed, claiming a total of 21 firefighters’ lives
  • 11 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass, or wildland firefighting, the lowest in over a decade
  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 76 firefighters
  • 38 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire
  • 26 firefighters died while responding to or returning from emergency incidents
  • 11 firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities
  • 15 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2007, with 52 firefighter deaths
  • 27 firefighters were killed as a result of vehicle crashes

One of the objectives of the report is to analyze the circumstances surrounding the fatalities. This is intended to help identify approaches that could reduce the number of firefighter deaths in future years.
Additional resources
An abbreviated summary of the 2007 fatality report is also available.
Recognizing the need to do more to prevent line-of-duty deaths and injuries, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation launched a national initiative to bring prevention to the forefront. Everyone Goes Home offers online resources, tool boxes, a learning center, and a calendar of various life-safety initiatives and activities.
Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990-2000 (PDF)
Annual Firefighter Fatality Reports

News roundup: Oregon’s WC success, aftermath of California’s fires, and more

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Oregon’s success with workers’ comp – Can you imagine a state where rates haven’t increased in nearly 20 years? No, this isn’t a dream – it’s happening in Oregon. Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters takes a closer look and analyzes Oregon’s success in workers’ comp. Joe notes that there is no single silver bullet, but a total package that contributes to the great results: an active bipartisan stakeholder group that includes management and labor; continual monitoring of the system to measure both processes and outcomes; a structured dispute resolution process with a focus on expediting cases; state-run incentives for return to work; and remarkable employer buy-in to every facet of the program, including OSHA inspections. Go read Joe’s post, he offers more detail.
South Carolina – In September, Governor Mark Sanford issued an executive order requiring the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission to use objective standards in an effort to control benefit awards which were reported to vary “wildly” averaging 81% higher than other states. This order is receiving push back and prompted a recent clarification of the Workers Comp Order.
California fire update – Fitch Ratings says that the Southern California fires could be the costliest catastrophe insured loss event this year. ” … a preliminary estimate by EQECAT, Inc. has indicated insured losses to date have exceeded $1 billion and will continue to grow. Risk Management Solutions (RMS) estimated insured losses of between $900 million and $1.6 billion and warned that losses could even exceed this level if the wildfires continue to spread. Fitch estimates that each $1 billion of insured loss adds about 20 basis points to the industry’s 2007 loss ratio based on Fitch’s almost $440 billion 2007 net earned premium forecast. Fitch also notes that each $1 billion of homeowners insured loss adds about 190 basis point to the industry’s homeowners 2007 loss ratio.”
Disaster planning – In the wake of the California fires, SHRM has issuing some excellent reports on the employer response to the disaster and how HR is coping in California. These articles make for interesting reading as case reports and they also provide valuable lessons for employers in disaster planning.
NY constructionsConstruction Means Debris; Gravity Means It FallsWhen a steel bucket tumbled 53 stories off the future Bank of America tower near Bryant Park on Wednesday, raining debris and sending people running for cover, it was hardly a novelty. It was the 74th time this year that something fell from a construction site in New York City, the Buildings Department said yesterday. (Thanks to rawblogXport for the pointer)

Workers’ Comp and the Station Nightclub

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

This is a cautionary tale for America’s small employers.

One hundred people died in the Station Nightclub fire, one of the worst tragedies in American history.

Yesterday, the brothers, Jeffrey A. Derderian and Michael A. Derderian, who owned the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, and Daniel M. Biechele, the tour manager for the band, Great White, were each charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter, two for each death. Each count carries a possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison.

The Derderians have owned the club since the year 2000. Overwhelmed by the enormity of the catastrophe, lost in the proverbial shuffle, actually, is the fact that in all that time they never purchased a workers’ compensation insurance policy, a statutory requirement.

There were 16 Station Night Club employees working the night of the fire. Four of them died. If there had been workers’ compensation insurance, the families of the dead employees would have been eligible for a meager $5,000 burial benefit. A surviving spouse would have been eligible to receive two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wage until death or remarriage.

Absent the insurance, the state stepped in and paid the benefits from a special fund created for such an event and funded by all employers in the state, all employers who purchase workers’ compensation, that is. The state then fined the brothers a little more than $1 million.

Asked why the Derderians never had the insurance, their attorney, Jeff Pine said, “Sometimes these things happen. A lot of businesses and other entities don’t have it.”

I find it interesting that right after the fine was announced, workers’ compensation applications in Rhode Island increased dramatically. Fancy that.

We’ll have a lot more on this in subsequent postings. Stay tuned.